A veteran of the notorious Arctic convoys that helped supply the Soviet Union in the Second World War has been honoured during a special ceremony.
Richard Aston, 92, from Amble, was one of a number of heroes to be recognised for their courageous efforts by the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh, Scotland.
He went to the embassy, followed by a reception, held at the end of last month on board the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith, as part of the Arctic Convoy 75th Anniversary Commemoration.
Richard and his comrades were presented with a solid silver medal and a number of other gifts, including a watch and a special-edition whisky.
The great grandfather, who attended the occasion with his four daughters, admitted it was an emotional moment and he felt honoured to be recognised.
He said: “I feel very proud. I really didn’t expect it. It came out of the dark. It was a fantastic occasion and the Russians really did us proud.
“We met the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh. We had time with him one-on-one and he was so sincere and so thankful.”
Conditions on the Arctic convoys were among the worst faced by any allied sailors and the loss rate for ships was higher than any other route.
Under constant threat of attack by German U-boats and aircraft, the men of the Royal and Merchant navies also faced severe cold, storms, and ice.
More than 3,000 were killed on the 2,500-mile route, described by iconic Prime Minister Winston Churchill as ‘the worst journey in the world’.
Richard was a wireless operator and served on board HMS Trumpeter, which was an escort carrier of 11,400 tons.
He admitted it was tough, but played down his actions.
He said: “The worst part was the weather – it was bitter cold and uncomfortable. But it was your job. You had to get on with it. Everybody was in the same boat.”
After the war in Europe ended, Richard was sent out to the Far East.
His daughter Eleanor Cromarty admitted the presentation was an unforgettable moment.
She said: “Dad has no idea how proud we are of him. He is so self-effacing and he has never really spoken about what he did during the war.”
Andrey A Pritsepov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh, led the commemorations. He paid his tributes to Richard and the other brave veterans of the Arctic conveys.
He said: “Russia is indebted to these brave men who risked their lives in dangerous conditions to deliver vital aid and equipment to the Eastern Front.
“It was a journey against all odds. Many have never returned.
“Their sacrifice and heroism comprise a proud chapter in our shared history.
“We felt the 75th anniversary was an important milestone to bring as many of these men together as possible to capture their stories and ensure we have a lasting legacy for many more generations to come.
“We have a moral obligation to pay tribute to those brave men in a dignified and proper way. We would like the veterans to feel very proud of what they did.
“Many of them tell us they did nothing special – they were just ‘doing their duty’.
“But history shows us that by doing this they have written themselves a very proud page in our shared history.”